Chris Shaw Talks New Band GØGGS, Self-Titled Album Out Now

Meredith Schneider

goggs

When IMPOSE got word that the infamous Ty Segall was forming (yet another) band with Ex-Cult’s Chris Shaw, and Fuzz’s Charles Moothart, we knew we had to have the inside scoop. An announcement made at the end of May introduced the world to GØGGSand the news that a self-titled debut was set to release on July 1st. 

We spoke with Chris Shaw about the project, its history, and his writing process.

You three have known each other for years. How did you all originally meet?

Ty and I met for the first time in Nashville. I used to do a zine and I wanted to interview him for it. I interviewed him and we hit it off, we drank some beers throughout the night. Next time he came to Memphis, he got my phone number somehow. He called me and said, “You should come out to the show we’re playing,” blah blah blah. He ended up staying at my house that night and we immediately became friends.

The first time he stayed at my house, we watched that movie Winnebago Man. It’s a documentary about this Winnebago infomercial thing where this guy is losing his mind. He’s supposed to be filming like a ten minute infomercial, but shit just keeps going wrong. It’s clips of him losing his mind and it got compiled on some Youtube video that went viral. So they made a documentary about it. Apparently we both find stupid shit like that really funny.

Winnebago Man is what I think about when I think about me and Ty becoming friends.

I didn’t know Charles that well until Ex-Cult opened for Ty on his Slaughterhouse tour. Ty is always really busy before and after the shows. I probably should have been busy, but I was kind of hanging out and taking it all in so Charles and I had a lot of time to hang out and bond, drink beer, and goof off together. It was within two or three days of that tour when Charles and I were instant buds.

The band was something that me and Ty had talked about starting for a long time, but it wasn’t something we had gotten a chance to sit down and map out or set aside time for. Once the time was there, Charles was immediately recruited. I couldn’t imagine doing the band with anyone else. He was the perfect fit for what we were trying to do.

Now that we all know Ty is a stalker from meeting you and following you around and stuff… What’s the full story behind the name?

Ty actually came up with it. I had a couple ideas in my back pocket, but he just texted me and was like, “What do you think of calling it GØGGS?” I asked him what it meant and he said it was just a completely made up word. I was just like, “Alright, cool. Let’s do it.”

Band names are tough because you’re stuck with it forever. I like that it doesn’t mean anything, because we can make up anything we want. We can make up a bunch of abbreviations and meanings for it. But yup, it’s from the weird brain of Ty Segall. Good luck trying to figure that out.

Your new single “Needle Trade Off” has been described as “hard, fast, and weird”. That’s awesome. How would you describe your sound?

That song is actually loosely written about a movie called Vice Squad, which is an 80s kind of exploitation film. It’s generally fucked up. I watched that movie one of the first times Ex-Cult played in LA and it’s about the seedy, criminal underworld of LA. I watched it in West Hollywood, not that far from where some of that movie takes place. It left an impression on me. I wanted to write lyrics about that movie one day with this band, seeing as two of the three members are from LA and we record in LA so it made sense to bust that one out. It’s definitely weirder punk or hardcore punk. Honestly, Ty’s guitar work on this whole album is some of my favorite guitar playing that he’s ever done. And I’m a fan of all of his stuff. I was really impressed with some of the solos and riffs that he pulled out for this record.

What was the inspiration behind “She Got Harder”?

That’s a phrase that I just came up with before I actually went out to record the album. That and “Needle Trade Off” are the only two songs where–for whatever reason–I was like, I need to write a song. Honestly, it’s just about someone whose life is unraveling and they’re kind of going off the rails and they may not realize it throughout the process. All their bad decisions are catching up with them.

So it’s the story of my life, basically?

Mine too. Only in a female form, I guess.

These track names… where did they come from? I personally love “Assassinate the Doctor”.

I was responsible for naming the songs and writing all the lyrics. It’s kind of what I’ve always brought to the table in all the bands I’ve been in. I hate bands that don’t take the lyrics or the name seriously. To me, that’s one of the most important parts and I don’t want to be remembered 10-15 years from now for writing some ironic, dumbass song about a cheeseburger. I take the lyrics and subject matter pretty seriously. Most of the stuff that I write–whether it’s short stories or poetry or journal entries–I think it’s all pretty dark because in reality, I’m pretty chill. I like to explore the darker, weirder aspects of life in my writing. A lot of times song titles will come up when I’m hanging out and I just jot two or three words down. It’s 2016, so I save a lot of shit in my phone. I use that notes app on my iPhone all the time. Almost every day I’ll jot down a couple things and later I’ll go back and think, “Wow, that’s fuckin’ stupid.” But other times, I save it for a later time because I like it. It just comes to be naturally, eating lunch, at work, walking around. Someone will say something in conversation I’ve never heard before and I’ll play around with the phrase a bit. It’s not that complicated.

I went to journalism school and I had a really cool teacher. Maybe I was getting on his nerves or something, but one day he gave me a notebook and said, “Don’t come back to class today. I want you to sit in the common area and write about everything you see. I want your notes at the end of the day.” I thought that was really cool because he wanted me to write about nothing, but in that process I realized that some of the most mundane, everyday stuff is extremely influential and important.

How do you imagine your fans listening to the music?

I think the majority of Ty’s fans are going to be surprised by the sound of this album. It’s some of the most aggressive music that he’s been a part of, at least recently. It’s similar music to the bands that I’ve been in, not something you’d play at a cookout or something. I would hope that people dig it and like it. I honestly don’t know. I’m always pretty surprised. Today, my dad told me he liked one of my songs that he heard on the internet and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He’s the one that got me into Black Sabbath and that stuff, so he deserves some credit.

In my experience, you always have an idea of who will like your music or who you think you’re pitching it to, but I really don’t know. And the fact that we haven’t played live at all together, I really don’t know what to expect. Obviously Ty has a big fan base, Ex-Cult has a pretty big fan base, and the band that Charles has been a part of has done really well. But I still don’t know how it’s going to go over.

The other thing is that the singles we have put out so far are some of the most straight forward punk songs. There’s definitely some weird stuff on the album that’s kind of been saved on purpose. You mentioned “Assassinate the Doctor”. That’s a pretty weird fuckin’ song. I love it. I’m proud of it and I’m pretty proud of everything on the album. We sat back and listened to the whole thing with Larry, who’s putting it out. You could tell three or four songs in, even he was like, “Wow. This is a fucking gnarly record. This is like a fucked up record.” I’m down with that.

People will sometimes be like, “Oh, your lyrics are so dark” or “these songs are crazy” and it’s like, well what the fuck did you expect? Nothing we’ve done up to this point would indicate our stuff would be normal.

You’re playing In The Red Records 25th Anniversary Blowout. What are you most looking forward to about that show and about touring with these guys in general?

Just to be in the company of some of the bands playing that festival is insane. Even when Ex-Cult started to get bigger and got to play with The Oblivians–or even opening up for some of the bands that we’ve gotten to open for. I’ve always been a music fan first. I grew up listening to so many records Larry put out. It’s a pretty big honor and very humbling to be in that company with some of the biggest bands in our little underground scene. Larry is a tastemaker for all that stuff. He put out so many records that changed the trajectory of garage rock, punk rock, underground rock, whatever you want to call it and I’m just looking forward to being in that company. I’m spoiled. I live in Memphis, so I’ve seen The Oblivians many times but it never gets old. Seeing The Gories will be awesome, I’ve never seen The Hunches and Red Aunts is going to be sick. You can’t go wrong with that lineup.

This is something Larry has been putting together for a long time. People have asked him to put on shows in the past and he’s just been waiting to kill it. There should be a couple surprises I’m not allowed to talk about, and I’m really excited. As far as I know, it’s not going to happen again. The 50th one, we will all be in much worse shape.

Who is your favorite superhero, and why?

I’d say my favorite superhero is Charles Bukowski. Something about his existence and his writing makes it seem like anything’s possible. I’m down with that viewpoint.
GØGGS is out today via In The Red. GØGGS is playing select shows across the country in July. If you like what you hear, make plans to be at one of those.

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